The Victim of Terrorism

  • Frank Ochberg
Part of the The Springer Series on Stress and Coping book series (SSSO)


Victimization is nothing new. Coping with the stress of captivity has been studied in considerable detail during and after World War II. Since the victim of terrorism is often a symbol of the government under siege, and since hostages released by terrorists have an immense audience provided by the media in the aftermath of a dramatic incident, these victims have an impact on public opinion and public sentiment that may be profound. A public that overreacts in outrage against the victims’ helplessness may precipitate harsh, simplistic counterterrorist measures. A public that joins the victim in identifying with the terrorist-aggressor may undermine the morale and confidence of the police. A public perplexed and alienated by the entire process may interfere with the bond of trust between government and governed that is necessary for the survival of democratic institutions. But, on the other hand, a public that is reasonably well aware of the repertoire of human responses that are effectively used by men and women under stress—even under the stress of terrorist threat and capitivity—such a public will be able to participate in rational decision making about national policy on terrorism. There is another obvious reason to consider the victims of terrorism. They suffer. And their suffering may be misunderstood or neglected when the tumult and drama of the notorious event have subsided. There are medically sound approaches in the diagnosis and treatment of such suffering that can and should be brought to bear on these cases.


Gallbladder Disease Democratic Institution Terrorist Threat Public Sentiment Hostage Situation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Eitinger, L. Concentration camp survivors in Norway and Israel. London: Allen & Unwin, 1964.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Selye, H. The stress of life. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1956.Google Scholar
  3. 1.
    Bard, M., & Sangrey, D. Things fall apart: Victims in crisis. Evaluation and Change, Special issue, 1980, 28–35.Google Scholar
  4. 2.
    Everstein, D. S., & Everstein, L. People in crisis: Strategic therapeutic interventions. New York: Brunner/Mazel, 1983.Google Scholar
  5. 3.
    Magee, D. What murder leaves behind: The victim’s family. New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1983.Google Scholar
  6. 4.
    Miller, D., & Porter, C. Self-blame in victims of violence. Journal of Social Issues, 1983, 39, 139–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 5.
    Pynoos, R. S., & Eth, S. The child as witness to homicide. Journal of Social Issues, 1984, 40, 87–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 6.
    Rosen, B., & Rosen, B., with Feifer, G. The destined hour: The hostage crisis and one family’s ordeal. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1982.Google Scholar
  9. 7.
    Shaw, E. Political hostages: Sanction and the recovery process. In L. Z. Freedman & Y. Alexander (Eds.), Perspectives on terrorism. Wilmington, Del.: Scholarly Resources, 1983.Google Scholar
  10. 8.
    Terr, L. Chowchilla revisited: The effects of psychic trauma four years after a school-bus kidnapping. American Journal of Psychiatry, 1983, 140, 1543–1550.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 9.
    Veronen, L. J., & Kilpatrick, D. G. Stress management for rape victims. In D. Meichenbaum & M. E. Jaremko (Eds.), Stress reduction and prevention. New York: Plenum Press, 1983.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frank Ochberg
    • 1
  1. 1.OkemosUSA

Personalised recommendations